Pakistan Says "Thank You" for USG Flood Assistance by Raiding US Embassy Warehouse. You’re Welcome!

Last month, the Government of Pakistan made yet another disaster declaration after massive flooding hit its Sindh Province. The floods which started in August at the beginning of the monsoon months have caused considerable damage with an estimated 434 civilians killed and with an estimated 5.3 millio­n people and 1 ,524,773 homes affect­ed.

On September 13, 2011, in response to the Government of Pakistan’s disaster declaration on September 9, the United States according to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad has immediately begun providing a broad range of assistance to Sindh communities affected by this year’s floods, including food supplies for more than 50,000 families, and safe drinking water, shelter, sanitation and hygiene supplies, and basic health care for thousands more:

Already, USAID-funded food packages have reached 23,000 families in
seven districts of Sindh (Badin, Mirpurkas, Tando Muhammed Khan, Tando
Allah Ya, Tharparker, Umarkot, and Hyderabad). This assistance was
delivered by the International Organization for Migration. USAID also
paid for nearly 60 trucks to deliver relief to affected areas and 1,000
plastic tarpaulins for shelter, and is financing other efforts to
coordinate relief activities.

In late September, the U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar announced that Dr. Marilyn Wyatt, wife of U.S. Ambassador Cameron Munter, visited an ongoing U.S. project to restore flood-damaged irrigation canals.  In total, the U.S. is restoring 1000 flood-damaged canals  in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Balochistan as part of assistance to the areas affected by the 2010 floods.

Dr. Marilyn Wyatt, wife of U.S. Ambassador Cameron Munter
Photo from US CG Peshawar

The presser from CG Peshawar went on to say:

The project is one of many undertaken by the U.S. government in
cooperation with Pakistan to restore self-sufficiency to farmers
affected by floods.  Additional measures include providing seed,
fertilizer, livestock feed, and medicine to more than 500,000 farmers in
three provinces.  In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province alone, more than 400
irrigation canals in 12 districts have been restored, amounting to
12,000 kilometers.

This project funded by the American people is
being implemented by the United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organization and Pakistani Provincial Disaster Management Authorities.

On October 3, the US Embassy in Islamabad announced that in all, the U.S. government is
providing approximately $19 million in humanitarian assistance in
response to the Government of Pakistan’s September 6 appeal and the UN’s
September 18 appeal.

This includes funding for mobile health clinics that can provide health services to 500,000 people, emergency shelter kits for nearly 20,000 families, and 9,000 tons of rice to the World Food Program (WFP) which, when combined
with other WFP food assistance, will reportedly meet the immediate food needs of
1.5 million people affected by flooding in Sindh Province for one month.

Just a few days prior to this October 3 announcement, the Government of Pakistan, anxious to say “thank you” for U.S. Government help in the flooding (and also for killing UBL hiding under the shadow of its prime military school), raided a U.S. Embassy warehouse in Islamabad. Under the headline, US Embassy warehouse sealed, dawn.com reports:

“We went to the warehouse on complaint of some residents of the
sector and sealed the building as it was being constructed without
approval of the CDA,” the authority`s Director General (Planning) Sarwar
Sindhu said.

CDA officials said the warehouse was under
construction and belonged to one Mehboob Elahi who had got changed the
status of plot changed from industrial to warehouse a few months ago.
Earlier, the place was used for a beverage factory.

Electronic
media highlighted the issue throughout the day, saying that `a bunker or
a hideout of Americans` had been sealed or raided.

“We had
information that a building was being constructed in the industrial area
in violation of CDA`s building laws on which we raided the building,”
another official said.

Tribune.com subsequently reports that “a senior official of the CDA, requesting anonymity, told The Express Tribune that in addition to the warehouse in sector I-9/3, the civic body has identified three more sites where building codes are being violated by officials of the US embassy.”

Oh, also that “A CDA official privy to the development said that the raiding team found
concrete structures and signal jammers in the warehouse.”

“US embassy Spokesperson Mark Stroh denied these claims, saying that
no “illegal activities” are underway in any warehouse or official
residence of the US diplomats. “Our offices are operating in the capital
city with the approval of foreign ministry,” he said.

Earlier, the US embassy lodged a strong protest with the Foreign
Office over the seizure of one of its warehouses in sector I-9/3 by CDA
and a police team for “violations of building laws”.

On October 16, Pakistani press reports that local authorities unsealed the US Embassy’s warehouse
building in Sector I-9 Industrial Area yesterday, following the intervention of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“A source privy to the developments confided to The Nation that the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs has directed the civic agency to consider
building as a diplomatic facility and after fulfilling the defined rules
in this regard it should be handed over to the embassy.”

Sorry, no Team 6 members were found hidden in the pretend “bunker” or unmarked wooden crates stored in the warehouse. CDA employees must be watching a whole lot of Jack Bauer episodes.

Oh, don’t get mad.  They were just trying to say, “thank you,” silly! If we give them $57 million more in humanitarian assistance, will they also raid “three more sites” of the US Embassy identified by CDA authorities?

Somebody, please go write that check.

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Our Man in Kandahar: From Shop Worker in Pakistan to General in Afghanistan, But Was He Ever Leahy Vetted?

In the current issue of The Atlantic, Matthieu Aikins writes a disturbing case of “our man in Kandahar,” Brigadier General Abdul Raziq,  “well known as a warlord and suspected drug trafficker who had waged a brutal campaign against the Taliban.”  According to Mr. Aikins, an independent journalist, General Raziq is not only a close ally of President Hamid Karzai  but has also been “mentored” by an American Special Forces team.  This past May, General Raziq was appointed by President Karzai as Acting Chief of Police for Kandahar province, an appointment that allowed him to remain in charge of Spin Boldak, a key trading town near the Pakistani border where an alleged massacre of civilians purported to be members of the Taliban occurred.

The piece is not a pretty read. It includes allegations of abuses, torture (with graphic photos) and extra-judicial killings as well as tribal feuds and cover-ups.  As well, it brings up questions of what our officials know over there. The article has a cast of characters that include a State Department official in Kandahar, State’s DRL bureau and questions about the Leahy vetting.

U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McCrystal, International Security Forces commander,
walks alongside Afghan border patrol commander Col. Abdul Razziq
and Pakistani Lt. General Khalid Wynne at the Friendship Gate
border crossing, Spin Boldak, Afghanistan, Jan. 18, 2010.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Francisco V. Govea II)

Excerpts:

Last fall, Raziq and his militia were given a starring role in the U.S.-led military offensive into Taliban-controlled areas west of Kandahar City, a campaign that boosted his prestige immensely. Mentored by an American Special Forces team, Raziq’s fighters won public praise from U.S. officers for their combat prowess. After the offensive, Raziq was promoted to brigadier general—a rank requiring a direct order from President Karzai—in a January ceremony at the governor’s mansion. As Ben Moeling, who was until July the State Department’s senior official in Kandahar province, explained to me at the time, the promotion was “an explicit recognition of his importance.”

Nor was that promotion the only evidence of Raziq’s continuing ascent. In May, when Karzai appointed him chief of police for Kandahar province, Raziq accepted only on the condition that he also remain in charge of Spin Boldak, the seat of his economic and tribal power. So, in a move that enabled him to retain both jobs, Raziq was appointed “acting” police chief in Kandahar.
[…]
Though Raziq has risen in large part through his own skills and ambition, he is also, to a considerable degree, a creation of the American military intervention in Afghanistan. (Prior to 2001, he had worked in a shop in Pakistan.) As part of a countrywide initiative, his men have been trained by two controversial private military firms, DynCorp and Xe, formerly known as Blackwater, at a U.S.-funded center in Spin Boldak, where they are also provided with weapons, vehicles, and communications equipment. Their salaries are subsequently paid through the Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan, a UN-administered international fund, to which the U.S. is the largest contributor. Raziq himself has enjoyed visits in Spin Boldak from such senior U.S. officials as Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and Generals Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus.

In public, American officials had until recently been careful to downplay Raziq’s alleged abuses. When I met with the State Department’s Moeling at his Kandahar City office in January, he told me, “I think there is certainly a mythology about Abdul Raziq, where there’s a degree of assumption on some of those things. But I have never seen evidence of private prisons or of extrajudicial killings directly attributable to him.”
[…]
Yet, as a 2006 State Department report shows, U.S. officials have for years been aware of credible allegations that Raziq and his men participated in a cold-blooded massacre of civilians, the details of which have, until now, been successfully buried. And this, in turn, raises questions regarding whether U.S. officials may have knowingly violated a 1997 law that forbids assistance to foreign military units involved in human-rights violations.
[…]
The State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor—which put out the 2006 report citing Raziq’s alleged involvement in the massacre of civilians—is also the group responsible for overseeing compliance with the Leahy Amendment. Yet, incredibly, U.S. support for Raziq seems never to have triggered Leahy concerns. “No Leahy Amendment issues have come to me,” Ben Moeling, the State Department official in Kandahar, told me in January.

The question is whether Raziq’s apparent exclusion from Leahy vetting represents a baffling oversight, or a deliberate evasion. In August, WikiLeaks released hundreds of classified, Leahy-related cables from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul that revealed that, from 2006 to 2010, the U.S. vetted thousands of Afghan security officials before training them. In one instance, on September 29, 2007, the embassy vetted 251 mid-level and senior officers in the Border Police. Raziq’s name was conspicuously absent.
[…]
Toward the end of 2009, senior ISAF officials reportedly thought about pushing for Raziq to be replaced. According to leaked cables, a high-level meeting was convened in Kabul, chaired by Deputy Ambassador Earl Wayne and Major General Michael Flynn, to discuss the problematic behavior of Raziq, among others. “Nobody, including his US military counterparts,” one cable noted, “is under any illusions about his corrupt activities.” Ultimately, however, General McChrystal, who was then the commander of ISAF and U.S. forces, decided that Raziq was too useful to cut loose, according to an article in The Washington Post. (McChrystal, through a spokesperson, declined to comment.) Cables also reveal that an American information-operations team even proposed a plan, “if credible,” for “the longer-term encouragement of stories in the international media on the ‘reform’ of Razziq.” (Note: WK link-do not read from USG workstation).
[…]
For his part, Raziq continues to deny all allegations of wrongdoing. “We have told the world and the media,” he said, “that if you have any proof regarding this matter, come and drag us to court.”
[…]
That has been America’s balancing act in Kandahar—weighing the allegations of abuse and criminality that have been raised regarding Raziq against his effectiveness as an ally in the war on the Taliban. Or, as Moeling told me back in January, before the most recent round of allegations: “At the moment, I think we have to take a look at what he’s been able to achieve. For us, trying to see the negative doesn’t really get us anywhere.”

Continue reading, Our Man in Kandahar.

The author was interviewed here by Democracy Now.

Section 551 of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs Appropriation Act for FY 2006, P.L. 109-102 (FOAA), includes a provision commonly referred to as the Leahy Amendment that states:

“None of the funds made available by this act may be provided to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible evidence that such unit has committed gross violations of human rights, unless the Secretary determines and reports to the Committees on Appropriations measures to bring the responsible members of the security forces to justice.”

The Wikipedia entry for the Leahy Law points out the two amendments attached to DOD and State appropriations:

There are actually two different Leahy Laws. One is attached to the
Defense Appropriations and the other is within the Foreign Operations
Appropriations.[7][8]
The Foreign Operations Appropriations Leahy Law cover weapons funding
and training, but the 2001 Defense Appropriations act Leahy Law only
covers training. Both Leahy provisions have similar wording.
The Leahy Law version attached to the Foreign Operations Appropriations has no waivers,[8]
but the Leahy Law in the Defense Appropriations version can be waived
if the Secretary of Defense determines that “extraordinary
circumstances” require it.[9]

According to a publicly available material, the State Department human rights vetting process under the Leahy Law follows these steps:

  • The U.S. Embassy investigates unit/individual for human rights violation by reviewing files and database, including the Abuse Case Evaluation System (ACES) database. (This database may have been superseded by the INVEST system used for Leahy Amendment vetting and overseen by the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL).
  • If derogatory information is found on an individual presented for vetting, the officer at post tasked with vetting will enter that information to the database.
  • The embassy cables the regional bureau at the State Department with the search results and requests a similar review of the Department’s files and databases.
  • Information of the unit/individual is circulated to appropriate personnel at State, including the Bureaus of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL); Intelligence and Research (INR)’ and Pol-Mil Affairs (PM) for review.
  • If no credible derogatory information is found, the regional bureau sends a reply to post indicating that no credible derogatory information has been found and the individual/unit may participate in training/assistance.
  • If credible derogatory information is found, the regional bureaus send a reply to post indicating that credible derogatory information has been found and the individual/unit may not participate in training/assistance. Any ongoing training/assistance will be terminated immediately.

If the State Department official in Kandahar was not in charge of Leahy vetting, then who was that person in the org chart?  Wasn’t there anyone at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul who had this role in his/her work requirement statement?

Pardon me? They had a bad translator?

I’d hate to think that we looked the other way because “our man” was quite effective in the alleged killing of our alleged enemies.  Or is it like what our State Department official told the author, “trying to see the negative doesn’t really get us anywhere.”

And seeing the positive would absolutely get us somewhere. Like win us this war. Of course, how dense of me.

Besides, really – what’s an alleged torture or alleged civilian massacre here or there? It’s just one more maze in this muck that we’ve wandered into and have so far refused to get out.  But we’re still the good guys, right? And we’re still fighting a good war, right?

Sleep tight, sweet bunnies!